Molitor hopes to find more playing time for Polanco
23-year-old blocked by Twins' infield logjam
By Do-Hyoung Park
MINNEAPOLIS -- Once it became established that the Twins weren't going to contend for the playoffs this season, they started to focus on getting their top prospects consistent playing time at the Major League level, a strategy that has clearly worked out for right fielder Max Kepler.
But in the case of infielder Jorge Polanco, who received his ninth regular-season call-up to the Twins on Thursday following the Eduardo Nunez trade, consistent at-bats might be more difficult to come by in light of Minnesota's crowded infield situation.
"He's a guy whose bat we all think is going to play, and we're just going to have to find a fit for him somewhere along the way," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "We might have to wait for an opportunity to get him more consistent play, but we'll try to get a little bit of a look at him this time around between now and the end of the season if we can."
Polanco, 23, the Twins' fourth-ranked prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, has almost exclusively played second base in Triple-A, but spent the last week or so taking more reps at third base because Brian Dozier is entrenched as the starting second baseman.
Given that Miguel Sano and Danny Santana currently appear to be the Twins' top choices at third base, and Trevor Plouffe is set to begin his rehab assignment on Monday, starts at the hot corner might be sparse as well. Molitor is not yet confident in Polanco's ability to play shortstop.
"I would say range and arm are probably two things that would make second base a little bit better," Molitor said. "I do feel his arm strength is better than it was even a couple of years ago. I saw a couple of balls this year at Spring Training where he made throws I didn't think he could have made in 2014."
Molitor noted that Polanco's arm strength doesn't match up to that of Santana or the departed Nunez, but also said that his young infielder's footwork and agility in the field have noticeably improved as he has worked his way up the Minor League system.
"He had a tendency, especially as a younger kid, to get a little bit tangled up in his crossovers or shuffles or transition from fielding to throwing," Molitor said. "I know that was part of what I used to see and work with, and it's been part of a continuing trend and I think it's gotten ironed out a little bit."
Polanco started at designated hitter in the Twins' game against the White Sox on Saturday.
Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.